• Brian Castle

Getting Started with Content Marketing

I’ve heard many times from friends and clients that the hardest part of any kind of content marketing is getting started, whether you’re talking about blogging, writing for thought leadership, social media, newsletters, podcasting, video, or all of the above.

Years ago, when I started this business, I was fortunate enough to draw upon my experience as a college newspaper editor. During my time at UNC Asheville, I worked on the student newspaper in a number of capacities. What began as a sports column later evolved into different positions on the editorial board, including managing editor and finally editor-in-chief. Looking back, I wonder how we all managed, with our class load, jobs, and incredible commitment to partying, to put out a 24-page edition each and every week of the semester.

A Method to the Madness: Have the End Product in Mind

The key: We always had a starting point. News, opinion, features, and sports. Each one of those sections had its own sub-structure: campus news, Asheville news, individual opinion columns, editorial board pieces, stories about places to go and events happening in the area, game highlights and athlete interviews. We knew what the end product had to contain, so it was easier to get started and execute each week.

As I began my career in marketing communications a little over 10 years ago, I realized how much this framework I’d learned in college applied to the then-brave new world of dynamic site content and social media. I found myself in demand not just as a copywriter and content producer, but also as a turnkey professional who could handle the rather enormous planning aspect demanded by modern content needs and execute on the plan.

Great Processes Yield Great Ideas

I can still remember my first real consultation on this front. I met a young lawyer (heck, I was young then, too) named James Forrest. He was a real innovator, trying to break the mold in his profession and create a more responsive, nimble version of the law firm. His accomplishments are numerous. In addition to growing a successful firm from scratch, he’s also become one of the first firms in the country and largest firms in North Carolina to operate as a certified B Corp. James showed me his innovation chops early on, as he shared his vision for what we’d do together.

When I shared tools like a content calendar and the concept of content buckets analogous to my old newspaper sections, and how they could apply in this new world of small business marketing, let’s just say our heads exploded with possibilities. In addition to touching the bases of his several practice areas with what we always called technical, “lawyerly” content, as well as new hire announcements, we also followed through with great success on a big idea of his from our very first meeting. “I want to really help our clients shine and tell their story,” I remember him saying. From there, we had the idea of client spotlights.

From Ideas to Practices—Best Ones, Too

This idea really took off and became some of his most treasured content. His lawyers loved it when we wrote about their clients, his clients loved the free publicity, and we were all able to deepen these relationships through giving back. James proved that by keeping your clients first, even in your marketing, good things come back to you. It’s funny—I now see things like “client spotlights” listed in those “X number of best practices for your marketing content” types of articles. I often think to myself, “I know and love the guy who came up with that!”

What’s great about this way of thinking—in terms of planning calendars and content buckets—is that it’s channel agnostic. It’s an effective way to plan your blogging and PR, and it especially brings sense to your social media. It’s much easier to get started and execute on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis when you know what the end should look like.

You Can Always Try, But You Don’t Have to DIY

I like sharing tips like these and my experience from working with real clients to achieve success. If you think you can do this stuff on your own, all the tools are out there. But sometimes, as you uncover a thought process, you realize that even though you can go to Lowe’s, you should still hire that contractor to take on that home improvement project. If you need help getting started, we’d be honored to assist. Contact us today to begin your journey.

About the Author

Brian Castle is Parklife’s Founder.